updated 02:23 pm EDT, Fri August 24, 2012
Not likely to indicate a wrapping-up of deliberations
The nine men and women on the jury for the landmark Apple vs. Samsung patent trial going on in San Francisco have asked the court for permission to stay in deliberations for an hour longer than scheduled today, more likely an indication that they are deep into discussions and don't want the session to end early rather than a possibility that they are preparing to wrap up their verdict.
The reason analysts and pundits believe that the jury request is a simple matter of needing extra time rather than a race to finish up deliberations is due to the complexity of the verdict worksheet, a 40-page form that was accompanied by a 108-page set of jury instructions that took over two hours to read aloud to jurors prior to the the case being handed to them last week. There are over 700 discrete questions on the forms, which ask for a specific damages amount (against either party) and detailed breakdowns over what patents were infringed, how deliberately or willfully, and what products are affected by the infringement. The complexity of the form hints that a verdict is unlikely to come quickly.
The case was brought by Apple after Samsung ignored warnings in 2010 from both the iPhone maker and its rival Google that Samsung's products were too derivative of Apple's designs in both trade dress and software. Apple has accused the company of "slavishly" copying from its innovations, down to the particular shade of green used in the identical "phone" icon.
Samsung's public habit of making its retail stores, promotional videos and signage resemble Apple's as closely as possible, coupled with the sharp change in designs following the iPhone and iPad's introductions, may not meet the legal standard of infringement -- but have left the public with the strong impression of the South Korean company as being prone to copying. The sentiment was picked up on and spoofed in a video produced by talk show host Conan O'Brien's staff that aired nationally in the middle of the trial and has since gone viral.
Apple is seeking a record $2.5 billion in damages -- about one-third of Samsung's market cap -- but is widely seen as being more interested in stopping infringement from both Samsung and other rivals (specifically Google) than caring about the money. The large award, Apple's attorney pointed out in closing arguments, is more about creating a disincentive to infringe with companies that make billions in revenue every quarter.
Samsung countersued Apple, claiming it had in fact infringed on two of Samsung's patents, for which it is asking for $400 million in compensation. Though analysts believe Samsung's prosecution to be the weaker case, there is a risk that the jury -- comprised mostly of well-educated local residents, though few of whom have much experience with patents or the subtleties of industrial and software design -- will want to "split the difference" and give both companies a partial win rather than the definitive moral victory both companies are staking billions of dollars over.
The extra time could also have been requested to try and resolve a split in the jury, but would seem unlikely on only the second full day of deliberations. If the jury is following the normal procedure in cases such as this, it is likely still reviewing the massive amount of evidence and trying to condense the key points made by both sides on the numerous issues involved before debating the merits of those points, the credibility of the witnesses and other factors that will ultimately make up their decision.[via TGDaily]